In Open Access News, my comrade-at-arms, Peter Suber commented on my essay “In Defense of the American Psychological Association’s Green OA Policy,” which defended the APA from criticism for levying a $2500 fee on authors for compliance with the NIH mandate to deposit in PubMed Central (PMC). I had said the problem was with NIH’s stipulation that the deposit had to be in PMC rather than in the author’s own Institutional Repository (IR): Though initially opposed in 1996, APA has since 2002 been solidly among the majority of publishers that are Green on OA self-archiving, meaning they explicitly endorse deposit in the author’s own institutional IR immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no fee (exactly as all publishers ought to be doing). Moreover, APA has now re-confirmed (see below) that it has no intention of back-sliding on that 6-year-old green policy (as Nature Publishing Group did 3 years ago, immediately upon the impending announcement of the NIH policy).
Peter Suber: “Stevan is mixing up unrelated issues. The APA “deposit fee” had nothing to do with the distinction between disciplinary repositories (like PMC) and institutional repositories. If the NIH mandated deposit in IRs instead of PMC, then the APA would demand a $2,500 fee for deposit in IRs, and the fee would be equally noxious and indefensible. Even if the NIH’s preference for PMC were as foolish as Stevan says it is (a criticism I do not share), it would not justify the APA fee.”
Peter seems to be replying with a hypothetical conditional, regarding what the APA would have done. But the APA has already been formally endorsing immediate Open Access self-archiving in the author’s own IR for six years now. Moreover (see below), the publisher, Gary Vandenbos, has confirmed that APA has not changed that policy, nor are there plans to change it.
What needs to be changed is just one small implementational detail of NIH’s Public Access Policy: the requirement to deposit directly in PMC. The locus of deposit should be the author’s own IR. PMC can harvest the metadata and link to the full-text in the IR. This will cost NIH authors nothing. APA itself has no plans to repeal its commendable 6-year-old Green OA self-archiving policy. (It would certainly have put APA in a very bad light if, having given its authors the green light to self-archive in their own IRs, APA then decided to slap a $2500 traffic ticket on them for going ahead and doing so!)
Date: 15 Jul 2008 23:28:40 -0400
To: Gary Vandenbos (Publisher, American Psychological Association Journals)
Cc: Alan Kazdin (President, American Psychological Association)
Subject: In Defense of the American Psychological Association’s Green OA Policy
Hi Gary (and Alan),
As long as APA does not dream of back-sliding on its 6-year green OA policy on institutional self-archiving, you can count on my firm support in the forthcoming onslaught from OA advocates worldwide, and you will weather the storm and come out looking good.
But please do reply to reassure me that back-sliding is not an option!
Best wishes, Stevan
Date: 16 Jul 2008 2:05:49 AM EDT (CA),
From: Gary VandenBos
Steven, I expect no change in the existing policy. Have not ever heard anyone suggest it.
Date: 16 Jul 2008 13:22:08 +0100 (BST)
To: Gary VandenBos
Splendid. Expect a spirited (and successful) defense that will leave APA looking benign and responsible (as it indeed is). The problem is in the well-meaning juggernauts (in this case, NIH OA policy-makers) that simply do not think things through.
Best wishes, Stevan
Peter Suber: “Stevan points to a 2002 APA policy statement, still online, which allows self-archiving in IRs. But he doesn’t point out that the APA’s newer policy statement describing the “deposit fee” effectively negates the older green policy, at least for NIH-funded authors. The new policy prohibits NIH-funded authors from depositing their postprints in any OA repository, disciplinary or institutional.”
The 2002 APA policy statement is not only still online and still in effect, but we have the publisher’s word that there is to be no change in that policy. The proposed fee only pertains to deposit in PMC.
APA Policy on Posting Articles on the Internet …Update effective June 1, 2002…Authors of articles published in APA journals may post a copy of the final manuscript… on their Web site or their employer’s server after it is accepted for publication… APA does not permit archiving with any other non-APA repositories…
Peter Suber: “The title of Stevan’s post suggests that he’s defending the APA’s 2002 self-archiving policy. I join him in that. But the body of his post attempts to defend the 2008 deposit fee as well: “Although it looks bad on the face of it…things are not always as they seem.” Not always, but this time.”
Not this time, and never for a publisher that is Green on OA. Once a publisher is Green on OA, there is nothing more that can or should be demanded of them, by the research community. The ball is now in the research community’s court. It is up to research institutions and research funders to design sensible policies that will ensure that the researchers they employ and fund actually provide Green OA for their joint research output.
Not all research is funded (and certainly not all by NIH), but (virtually) all researchers have institutions. And all institutions are just a piece of free software, some server-space, and a few hours of sysad set-up and maintenance time away from having an IR, if they do not already have one.
The sensible OA mandate, from both institutions and funders (like NIH) is to require deposit in the researcher’s own IR, immediately upon acceptance for publication. If there is an embargo, access to the deposit can be set as Closed Access during the embargo. The IR’s “email eprint request” button will provide almost-immediate, almost-OA for all user needs during any embargo.
If funders or others want to create institution-external, central collections of already-OA content, based on subject matter, funding source, nationality, or whatever, then they can harvest the metadata and link to the full-text in the IR in which it was deposited. But there is certainly no reason to insist that it be deposited directly in their collections. Google, for example, quietly harvests everything: no need to deposit things directly in Google or Google Scholar. And no charge.
Peter Suber: “Both arguments are moot for a while, now that the APA has taken down the new policy statement for “re-examination”. (See the 7/16/08 update to my blog post on the policy.)”
I don’t doubt that well-meaning OA supporters who have not thought it through are now railing at APA instead of resolutely requesting that NIH make the minor modification in its otherwise admirable, timely, and welcome policy that would put an end to this nonsense and let researchers get on with the urgent task of providing OA by depositing their own research in their own OA IRs, free for all, webwide.
Epilogue and Homily:
The influence of the pro-OA lobby has become gratifyingly strong and swift:
A new policy is in the works. In an e-mail from Alan Kazdin, APA president:
?A new document deposit policy of the American Psychological Association (APA) requiring a publication fee to deposit manuscripts in PubMed Central based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently being re-examined and will not be implemented at this time. This policy had recently been announced on APA?s Web site. APA will soon be releasing more detailed information about the complex issues involved in the implementation of the new NIH Public Access Policy.
APA will continue to deposit NIH-funded manuscripts on behalf of authors in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
Gary R. VandenBos, PhD
but it would be useful if the heads of OA advocates worldwide were focused, commensurately strongly, on using their growing influence to promote what will actually generate universal OA, swiftly and surely, rather than dissipating it on the short-sighted distractions — such as Gold Fever, Preservation Panic, Copyright Compulsion, and, here, Supererogatory Centralism — which are only delaying rather than facilitating OA:
(For the record, and the too literal-minded: Of course a $2500 fee for depositing in PMS is absurd, but what reduced us to this absurdity was needlessly mandating direct deposit in PMS in the first place. Time to remedy the absurdity and let researchers’ fingers do the walking so we can all reach 100% OA at long last.)
A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy (Oct 2004)
Please Don’t Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy! (Jan 2005)
National Institutes of Health: Report on the NIH Public Access Policy. In: Department of Health and Human Services (Jan 2006, reporting 3.8% compliance rate after 8 months for its first, non-mandatory deposit policy)
Central versus institutional self-archiving (Sep 2006)
Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How? (Sep 2006)
THE FEEDER AND THE DRIVER: Deposit Institutionally, Harvest Centrally (Jan 2008)
Optimize the NIH Mandate Now: Deposit Institutionally, Harvest Centrally (Jan 2008)
Yet Another Reason for Institutional OA Mandates: To Reinforce and Monitor Compliance With Funder OA Mandates (Feb 2008)
How To Integrate University and Funder Open Access Mandates (Mar 2008)
One Small Step for NIH, One Giant Leap for Mankind (Mar 2008)
NIH Invites Recommendations on How to Implement and Monitor Compliance with Its OA Self-Archiving Mandate (Apr 2008)
Institutional Repositories vs Subject/Central Repositories (Jun 2008)
American Scientist Open Access Forum